Greek Easter


On Easter Sunday family and friends gather to celebrate – it’s open house so everyone drops in

In the Greek Orthodox Church, Easter is calculated to fall on the first Sunday of the last quarter of the moon.

'It's the most important celebration. We have lamb on a spit, painted eggs. We go to church every night of the week up to Saturday night.' John

'Easter is a family time get-together. A little bit religious, but...' Joanna

'You can live as you like, but you go to church for the significant times of your life. You mark events by rituals. And it is community because everyone you know goes to church.' Katrina

'Last Easter we went to my son's place. I still do most of the cooking and take food. When I had Easter here at home more than 40 people came. 30 more might drop in on the day for a cup of coffee or a glass of spirits. The service usually starts at 11.00pm and finishes at 12.00am, when Jesus has risen. There is no food at the church. Women make a couple of dozen eggs each and at the end of the service everyone gets a blessing from the priest as they walk past, and an egg. I leave the church straight after the service - I don't wait for an egg or a blessing. When we come home we have chicken soup ready, Easter eggs and cheese. We crack our eggs and drink a bit of wine and about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning we go to bed.' Joanna

'On Easter Sunday family and friends gather to celebrate - it's open house so everyone drops in. If they come when we are eating, there's always a plate there.' John

'They come into our company as one of our own. It's not appropriate to bring food. I would be very offended. The kids are different - they're Australian.' Joanna

'I go in, I am fed. It is a symbol of hospitality.' Katrina

'Lunch is all day Sunday - there's singing and dancing - the old songs. The kids laugh with us but they don't sing with us. The songs are not religious. They are ballads and hero songs that we sing at community gatherings. We greet each other saying 'Christos Anesti' (Christ has risen) and reply 'Alithos Anesti' (Yes, it's true). We always have Greek food - dolmades, pastitsio, salads - it's not a table unless there is olives and fetta cheese.' Joanna

Photo 1, 3 & 4: Celebrations that were always held at home now often take place in restaurants, especially as the younger generation takes over responsibility for hosting these events and feels less bound by tradition.

Photo 2, 6 & 7: Religious icons are found in many Greek homes. These, belonging to Joanna, represent the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. The one with three parts is called a triptych.

Photo 5: John made this automatic lamb-roasting spit himself. The lamb is a very important symbol in Greek Easter and the Greek word ‘Amnos’ (Lamb) is also represented on the bread stamp used during church services.